Writing with Style
Vorhaus, that would be the author of this here writing book, starts out the first chapter with "Good writing equals honesty plus style". For the next exercise (I would call it "no. 3", with the first two being the ones I did in the previous entry, but he doesn't actually number them, tsk) he starts off with a list "kinds of style", offering:
- Encode as poetry (not that I know anyone who'd do that)
- Inject humor (I thought that was the point behind the "lie" suggestion)
- Invent new words
- Be bold
and then says "Think up a dozen on your own".
Rats, Vorhaus, you were doing so well without me, too.
(My favorite part of the book so far is in the introduction, where he lists off a bunch of rhetorical questions, then writes: "Please write down your response. I don't intend to do all the work around here." Mind you, though, I'm only on page 5. Goes slowly when I keep having to stop to do these exercises.)
Meanwhile, I am tackling this exercise in much the same way you approach a high-school history essay question on a test you forgot you were going to have, and where the textbook in question is sitting, still wrapped in plastic, at the bottom of your locker under your winter coat and gym sneakers, where you put it at the beginning of the year, so all you can really do is restate the question in several forms while you hope for divine inspiration, or at least, a fire alarm.
No, that's just the drying machines still blowing.
All right, I think I've got a couple:
- Employ colorful similes, or even metaphors
- Illustrate with anecdotes
I'm supposed to come up with a dozen of these? Can they be redundant? I rather thought that injecting humor/lying/exaggerating all has a lot of overlap.
- Give specifics and details
- Steal from ancient authors (hey, it worked for Shakespeare!)
- Follow Alexander Pope's rules on writing as outlined in Essay on Criticism (there's a lot to be said for these, in fact)
- Evade the main issue by talking about something more interesting ("Look, an obvious distraction!") and thereby convince the reader that your subject actually is interesting, since your writing was
- Embellish (not recommended in conjunction with the previous one)
Umm. How many is that?
Need three more. Right.
- Use a colorful dialect or slang ("Grully, you should pop by the priestess' padola. She's hey-big on guests 'n all. I'd offer you a crash, but I've no mat of my own. I'm a rumbalong type … uhm … I'm not chilly here." -- example stolen from jordangreywolf--you don't mind, right, wuf?)
- Be blunt (I've got a sledgehammer; don't make me use it)
- Get flowery ("It is with sad regrets that I must inform you that his worship, our mayor, is unavailable at this moment, as he, unfortunately unaware of your arrival, is on other business. It is my hope that he shall return soon, perhaps within an hour's time, when I am sure he will be able to put off whatever other trivial matters might call on his attention, that he might welcome the honored visitors from Rephidim. In the meantime, perhaps the beautiful ladies from the sky island would be so gracious as to present their humble servant with their documents of identification, that we might dispense with such unimportant formalities?")
There. That's twelve. There's arguably some overlap in "simplify/be blunt/be bold" as with "embellish" and "get flowery". But that'll do for me. No one's grading me, anyway. Right.
*peers out at the audience*
Y'all should feel free to offer suggestions on strategies I've overlooked. No reason why I should have all the fun.